South Africa have announced their Sevens squad for next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with Kyle Brown named as captain.
Brown leads the 12-man squad which excludes 2007 Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana and fellow 15-man Springboks Francois Hougaard and Ryan Kankowski.
Hougaard has been included as one of two travelling replacements, along with Chris Dry, in the squad named by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) on Thursday.
The squad that will compete as part of Team SA as rugby returns to the Olympics 92 years since the 15-man format was last played at the Olympics, in 1924 in Paris.
Current World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Werner Kok, was included in the team after he missed out in all of the 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series following a knee injury. He has been joined by Springbok midfielder, Juan de Jongh, who has played in 14 Test matches for South Africa.
De Jongh’s regular Stormers team-mate in Super Rugby, Cheslin Kolbe, was also included, but generally Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell stuck to most of the regulars that helped the Blitzboks to second place in the overall World Series.
This include forwards Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman and Kwagga Smith, who was named in World Rugby's Dream Team at the completion of the World Series along with speedster Seabelo Senatla. The winger will be joined by former World Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman at the back. All-rounder Dylan Sage also secured a trip to Rio with strong performances in the last couple of tournaments.
“It was really tough finalising the 12-man squad presented to SASCOC,” admitted Powell.
“I could have picked three different teams and all would have been very competitive, but unfortunately, only 12 can go. We have named Francois Hougaard and Chris Dry as back-up players that will travel to Rio as well, but they will be staying outside the official village.
“I want to thank all 23 players that contributed this year and the final 19 who really worked hard towards a common goal. That said, we are not done yet and will have to work hard in the remaining 20 days or so to fine-tune our play.
“We are all excited about this as it does not come bigger than the Olympics, but also realise that there will be expectations for us to perform. We can only give our best and hope we can justify the great support we are getting from the public.
“We are not thinking medals, but rather on how to execute on our first match on day one of the tournament. We will focus on what we do well and that will hopefully bring the desired results.”
South Africa Sevens: Kyle Brown (c), Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Werner Kok, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Rosko Specman, Cheslin Kolbe, Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla. Travelling reserves: Chris Dry, Francois Hougaard